What weird things have you run into during your round? As for me, I hate running into golf course snakes.

I once was somewhat acquainted with a young man who enjoyed collecting snakes.

Collecting is the right verb. He would wander along country roadsides in approaching darkness, waiting for snakes to crawl out of the nearby woods and seek warmth near the asphalt. Then he would grab them with a hook and drop them into a bag. And on to the next quarry.

He lived in a mobile home, and his snakes, including rattlesnakes and copperheads, were housed in cages in an adjacent mobile home. On the other side of his residence was another trailer. Here he raised the mice that were dinner for the snakes.

This is not the kind of housing that is popular even in a real estate boom

Spring Is Here, and So Are…Golf Course Snakes?

Jokes aside, I think about this acquaintance every spring. Temperatures are rising across much of the North American continent. Trees have turned from naked to green. Flowers are—finally!—blooming. Shorts are replacing golf pants on the fairways.

Also, snakes are awake and mobile, or, as my great uncle used to say after the first warm days of spring, “Watch out, snakes are runnin’.”

snakes on the golf course

Snakes aren’t necessarily the smartest of animals. Even so, it’s not surprising that, in many parts of the country, they like to set up housekeeping on or near golf courses. What’s not to like? The safety of the woods. Ponds for a refreshing dip and maybe an evening meal. A possible reptilian chuckle or two as golfers searching for golf balls walk a few feet away with no idea of what’s lurking behind the rocks.

A friend of mine (since departed to celestial fairways) was deathly afraid of snakes. He often played golf on the South Carolina coast, which is a sort of Southeastern headquarters for those who slither. His playing pals were aware of his aversion to snakes, so they tried to “support” him in every way.

(Of course they didn’t. They took every advantage of his uneasiness.)

Friends often repeated the story of watching him wander into underbrush in search of a ball on a course near Myrtle Beach. He was only a few steps off the fairway when someone in the foursome made a rattling noise. He burst out of the high grass with the speed of a leopard, whirling his 7 iron over his head like a rampaging warrior.

It took awhile for the laughter to subside. There were few pars on his scorecard the rest of the day—which, perhaps, was the point after all.

I am not a big fan of snakes, but I’ve come to grips with the reality that I might occasionally encounter one while roaming the rough on golf courses in the South, where I normally play. Considering the environment, it’s surprising that I’ve seen only two—both harmless black snakes—in recent years. Neither tried to steal my golf ball or attempt any other snaky sneakiness.

The best golf course snakes are the ones who stay deep in the woods during the day, emerging only at night to do whatever it is they do. I’m not going to worry too much about them until I reach down to pick up my 8 iron and it moves. Yikes!

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.